Young Eco-Innovators


Rosina Nku
MARAPONG — Despite political and social bottlenecks in different parts of the country, Lephalale’s newest generation are breaking barriers to leave permanent footprints on the sands of not only their town but also on Africa’s timeline. Among these exceptional people are young Africans looking inward to create specialized solutions to the unique challenges that their societies face.
Born and bred in Lephalale the Phosphorescent Compatriots and The Inventive Distributors learners of Tielelo High School are representing the Waterberg District at the Department of Environmental Affairs for the SAGE (Student Advance Global Entrepreneur) competition. These young eco-innovators should be watched for two important reasons: they have a strong desire to protect the environment and a unique ability to encourage other young people to get involved.
The 29 innovators turned common household products into green ecological products, made from raw materials and indigenous plants. Growing up in environments faced with severe issues inspired the youngsters through extensive research to innovate a product range that includes: multi-insect repellent, cough syrup and iced tea. The products are made from everyday ingredients such as ginger, garlic, onions and coriander. The insect repellent for example can play many roles as it will keep multiple pests away and can be used as an air freshener. The cough syrup is known to reduce constipation, beat cholesterol and treat ulcers.
A 33-year-old motivational speaker swears to have tried and tested the cough syrup and felt better after taking it. “The cough syrup is very soothing and easy to drink, unlike others that seem to have a lot of sugar and harmful substances. I think I will be calling them next time I develop a cold” he said.
The young innovators who wish to further their studies and become professionals one day are very eager to extend their innovations into a full-fledged business model. They currently sacrifice their weekends and work from home. They insist on taking precautions when it comes to safety and health in the working environment. The group raise funds in order to support their operations by washing sneakers for cash, cleaning yards and hosting artistic events.
Lazarus Kgageng of The Phosphorescent Compatriot will not let any obstacle deter his efforts on the multi-insect repellent. “I believe in staying committed to what I love no matter what people say.”
On 13 May, 16 schools competed at Polokwane at the SAGE young innovators competition representing the Waterberg District. Economics teacher Mrs. Mahlodi Matita, a stringent mentor to the innovators, is very proud of their efforts and determination. “We are in the process of getting the products into labs and finishing up the packaging details” said Matita.
Although Tielelo High School did not achieve a position or award, the innovators are proud to know they are putting Lephalale on the map and helping to solve problems within the community. They plan on brushing up their business plan and competing again.
One of the biggest challenges the innovators face is working alone and the use of the internet for research and travelling costs take their toll on start-up projects. The ability for youth to help shape the course of the future is a fact that has been illustrated throughout history. Be it in the form of childhood prodigies or groups of young people opposing oppression, the seed that is planted today will eventually grow into a big mighty tree.

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